IoT or M2M?

Differences between IoT and M2M

For many people, the terms “Internet of Things” (Iot)
and “Machine to Machine” (M2M) are more or less
interchangeable. Both of them seem to relate to the
way that devices in the real world are linked to the
broader internet, and both involve wireless
connectivity, sensors and data collection and analysis.
So it’s easy to see why there is some confusion.
However, if you unpack the two terms a little bit, some
interesting differences emerge, which help to shed
some light o what the IoT (and M2M) is all about. So,
let’s have a look at what the 2 terms mean, and tease
out some key points for makers to think about.
Defining the IoT and M2M
By “M2M” we simply mean systems that involve devices
communicating with each other, usually via a wireless
network. To achieve this, devices on the netowork
tend to use embedded hardware components, which
are specifically designed to interact with each other,
but have limited broader connectivity. In M2M
systems, data collection is often limited as well, and
generally won’t be made available to wider audiences,
limiting the potential of society-wide M2M systems
like health monitoring networks. Another common
aspect if M2M-style installations is the they tend to
use heavier, more cumbersome sensors. They use
proprietary software and hardware that is set up for a
single use, often un a single location, so they are
marked by a lack of flexibility.

The “IoT” is similar in some respects. Most
importantly, in the IoT, devices communicate with
each other with wireless signals. But that similarity can
mask some differences. For example, while M2M
systems use embedded hardware, IoT systems will
generally rely on IP addresses to connect devices
together. And IoT based systems will also be hooked
up to broader intranets (at least), and probably the
wider internet. This allows IoT users to benefit form
more in-depth data analysis tools, access a wider
community of users, and generally be more flexible
about how their systems are designed. Finally, IoT
bases setups typically involve smaller sensors with
Bluetooth technology. They don’t have to connect with
specific hardware components, and can be much more
agile and adaptable than M2M alternatives.


What does the IoT offers
that M2M doesn’t?

So, given those differences, it’s clear that IoT
architecture has some significant advantages.
Flexibility is a crucial benefit. Because IoT sensors are
smaller, and link up to a wider range of devices (such
as laptops, payment terminals, smartphones, desktop
PCs, routers, TVs, etc…) the potential for creating
innovative new products and services is much greater.
M2M remains a useful technology for industrial
applications where security and physical resilience are
priorities, but for applications line sensing
temperatures i swimming pools or tracking the length
of a runner’s stride across a 10 mile run, the IoT is
more suitable.